The vast majority of fine dining dishes are fraught with ingredients that give vegans the willies. High-end chefs instinctively saturate their food with butter and cream, costuming even the most innocuous vegetables in animal products.
But for one week this month, vegan options will be on the menu at five fancy Dallas restaurants. Salum, The Second Floor, Tillman's Roadhouse, Bijoux and Stephen Pyles are all planning to feature animal-free dishes from October 24-31 in conjunction with a nationwide program sponsored by advocacy group Mercy for Animals.
"The response has been great," spokesperson Eddie Garza says. "Everybody here is really open to being creative."
Many chefs will accommodate requests for vegan dishes, but Garza stresses this program saves vegans the hassle of having to call a restaurant in advance or explaining their dietary restrictions in elaborate detail to a sometimes befuddled server.
"These dishes are going to be on the menu," he says.
Restaurants are increasingly developing dishes for their vegan guests: Steve Wynn this summer announced vegan choices would be made available at every restaurant housed in his two Vegas properties, including the buffets famed for their hulking roasts and shellfish bazaars.
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Garza hopes the menu listing will also prompt carnivores to consider the political implications of their selections. According to a press release, the "veggie fare will leave even the most die-hard meat eaters begging for seconds."
Participating restaurants haven't announced pricing, but Salum's planning to serve tempura cauliflower; The Second Floor's developing a soba noodle salad and Bijoux's ravioli dish includes roasted mushroom dust.
Garza says Salum's Abraham Salum was responsible for one of the best vegan dishes he ever ate.
"It was a wild mushroom risotto," he recalls. "I'd just gone vegan, and it was phenomenal."